If bugs have their own Tori Amos, she is likely writing about sexual conflict and how reproduction exists at all given that it can be so costly, especially to females. One aspect of this conflict concerns how females respond to increased mating events that are of more benefit to males than to themselves.
New work discusses how some males, instead of mating conventionally, take the awkward step of piercing and penetrating their mate through her body wall. This mating behavior is known as traumatic insemination and it potentially comes at a great physiological cost to the female.
Traumatic insemination is known across several insect lineages and is thought to have evolved due to the increased reproductive success of males that employed it. This is because males are able to avoid female control of fertilization. It is, as you can imagine, thought to be very costly to female survival and in recent years scientists have identified unique counter adaptations in female physiology that reduce the costs imposed by traumatic insemination. This includes evolution of completely new organs to help prevent infection through this mating method.
Scanning Electron Microscopy still image of a mated female bug with wings removed to see mating wounds, which are found on the upper right area of the abdomen. Credit: Umeå University
Umeå University researcher Tom Cameron and his co-authors explored the costs of traumatic insemination for female Warehouse pirate bugs, Xylocoris flavipes. A small predatory insect often used in biological control programs to protect dried foods such as grain and nuts.
The investigation showed that despite the clear differences in taxonomy, evolutionary history, mode of predation, size and position of entry, pirate bugs largely respond in the same way as other taxa that employ traumatic insemination such as the parasitic bedbug Cimex lectularius.
"We found that multiple mated females die young, but they make up for it by laying more eggs each day," says Dr. Cameron.
Whether this behavior is adaptive on the part of the female or is manipulation of the female by the male via chemicals introduced to her via sperm transfer remains to be explored.
Citation: Amy Backhouse, Steven M. Sait and Tom C. Cameron, 'Multiple mating in the traumatically inseminating Warehouse pirate bug, Xylocoris flavipes: effects on fecundity and longevity', Biology Letters (2012), doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.0091
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- EARTH SCIENCES
- LIFE SCIENCES
- SOCIAL SCIENCES
Subscribe to the newsletter
Stay in touch with the scientific world!
Know Science And Want To Write?
- Part I: Bee Deaths Mystery Solved? Neonicotinoids (Neonics) May Actually Help Bee Health
- 3X Saturated Fat In The Diet Doesn't Increase It In Blood
- Eosinophilic Esophagitis: Genetic Clues Of Severe Food Allergy
- Still No Contact with NASA's Sun-watching Probe
- Is Religion A Consolation Worth Having?
- The BPA Paradox – Too Many Studies?
- Interstellar Is A Dangerous Fantasy Of US Colonialism
- "As an earlier cigarette smoker and now e-cig smoker, I can confirm they don't help you quit. As..."
- "Reality? What is reality if you use irrational arguments to justify man's cruelty toward..."
- "Always loved the Heels that showed of the instep (arches) ..."
- "By the way, I am a fan of your blog. It's one of the few places I can follow physics without getting..."
- "Hello Anon,you're entirely right, it's arbitrary and it does not provide protection against cases..."
- Gene in kidney may play role in high blood pressure
- Panel-based genetic diagnostic testing for inherited eye disease proves highly accurate
- Research finds tooth enamel fast-track in humans
- Good news for cocaine users: Caffeine counters cocaine's effects on women's estrus cycles
- Clipping proteins that package genes may limit abnormal cell growth in tumors